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Interview: 'Things Get Wrong in the Woods' of Silk Hills

Interview by Troy-Jeffrey Allen

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Arriving this June, Oni Press presents Silk Hills by writers Ryan Ferrier and Brian Level, featuring artist Kate Sherron.

Arriving as a hardcover graphic novel, Silk Hills centers on Beth, who has a talent for finding people who don't want to be found. Her latest missing person search brings her in conflict with the town's local drug trade, too-friendly creepers, and a very sinister deer. Maybe the psychoactive moth dust has something to do with it.

PREVIEWSworld hung out with writer Brian Level to figure out what is going on inside the abandoned mining town of Silk Hills and why we should just stay out of the woods! 


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For those unfamiliar, what is the concept behind the overall Silk Hills?

Without giving too much away, Beth Wills is hired by an eccentric lumber magnate (Winstead Partridge) and patriarch of a historically powerful family to head into Appalachia to handle the disappearance of his only son (Abel). Upon her arrival in the decaying town of Silk Hills, things become much stranger than her typical missing persons job. With the appearance of horrific moth figures, drug dens, portending nightmares, and some unexpected charm, her time in Silk Hills becomes a rollercoaster ride on a mine rail straight into the dark.

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Tell us a bit about Beth Wills. Why do we follow her through this particular story?  

Beth is difficult: Kind-hearted, but not particularly polite. Tightly closed off until she dumps it all out. Poor emotional management, with a cool-as-ice demeanor. I’d say she’s dealing with a lot of baggage, but that’s her whole problem. She doesn’t deal with it. She finds things to stuff it into. Things she can solve. Until the real issues sneak back up and the worst possible times. But she’s pretty good people and has a fervor for what’s visibly right.

We follow Beth as a way into Silk Hills. The town is opaque with its own operations. Beth is forced to react to these things, often without context, just like us. I’d like to think that Beth is our guide, without ever being aware of it. Like, we’re some familiar spirit haunting her as she searches for Abel Partridge, and suffering every step with her.

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What made you want to do this as a graphic novel as opposed to a mini-series?

The pace and trajectory of the story really only made sense as a graphic novel to me. It builds on itself and moves in and out of a dreamlike space so smoothly that breaking it up into issues felt wrong. We originally conceived it as an original graphic novel but definitely explored the idea of issues. In the end, it just didn't work as well so we stayed the course as an OGN. I’m really happy we did.

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How did you both get involved with this book? Did one approach the other with this idea?

I guess the germ of the idea came from me. I pitched it to Ryan because of our shared love for certain types of horror. I had a few dreams to pack into it and we had a few phone conversations before the story got solidified.  After that, we asked Kate to take part in it and the rest is what comes out in May!

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What can readers expect from Silk Hills?

That’s almost a kinda funny question.  Nothing and everything? Haha. We try to keep it moving in unpredictable places while attempting to deliver on tropes. Lots of different moods from atmospheric suspense and mystery, to sun-shiny humor, to repulsive body horror, to absurdity that will generate a myriad of reactions. We didn’t pull any punches and delivered a very hard-to-categorize book.

In terms of audience, who is Silk Hills for?

Honestly, I think it’s for most people that like entertaining adult comic books that don’t treat you like you’re stupid. It’s for arty folk while being very much for hard genre folk as well.  Crime/Horror/Mystery fans should get their itch scratched.  Fans of Blue Velvet, HP Lovecraft, Blair Witch Project, Stray Bullets, Phantasm, Wytches, Jacob’s Ladder, Winter’s Bone, Silent Hill, and on and on. Silk Hills is the product of a gleeful love of darkness and the unknown things hidden within it. 

Silk Hills (JAN221554) is available on June 15th at comic shops. Reserve your copy today using PREVIEWSworld Pullbox!

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Troy-Jeffrey Allen is the producer and co-host of PREVIEWSworld Weekly. His comics work includes MF DOOM: All Caps, Public Enemy's Apocalpyse '91, Fight of the Century, the Harvey Award-nominated District Comics, and the Ringo Award-nominated Magic Bullet.

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